Articles | Volume 9, issue 9
Geosci. Model Dev., 9, 3027–3054, 2016
Geosci. Model Dev., 9, 3027–3054, 2016

Development and technical paper 02 Sep 2016

Development and technical paper | 02 Sep 2016

The efficient urban canopy dependency parametrization (SURY) v1.0 for atmospheric modelling: description and application with the COSMO-CLM model for a Belgian summer

Hendrik Wouters1, Matthias Demuzere1, Ulrich Blahak2, Krzysztof Fortuniak3, Bino Maiheu4, Johan Camps5, Daniël Tielemans6, and Nicole P. M. van Lipzig1 Hendrik Wouters et al.
  • 1KU Leuven, Dept. Earth and Environmental Sciences, Celestijnenlaan 200E, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium
  • 2Deutscher Wetterdienst, Frankfurter Straße 135, 63067 Offenbach, Germany
  • 3University of Łodź, Department of Meteorology and Climatology, Narutowicza 88, 90-139 Łodź, Poland
  • 4VITO, Flemish Institute for Technological Research, Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium
  • 5SCK•CEN, Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium
  • 6VMM, Flemish Environmental Agency, Dokter De Moorstraat 24–26, 9300 Aalst, Belgium

Abstract. This paper presents the Semi-empirical URban canopY parametrization (SURY) v1.0, which bridges the gap between bulk urban land-surface schemes and explicit-canyon schemes. Based on detailed observational studies, modelling experiments and available parameter inventories, it offers a robust translation of urban canopy parameters – containing the three-dimensional information – into bulk parameters. As a result, it brings canopy-dependent urban physics to existing bulk urban land-surface schemes of atmospheric models. At the same time, SURY preserves a low computational cost of bulk schemes for efficient numerical weather prediction and climate modelling at the convection-permitting scales. It offers versatility and consistency for employing both urban canopy parameters from bottom-up inventories and bulk parameters from top-down estimates. SURY is tested for Belgium at 2.8 km resolution with the COSMO-CLM model (v5.0_clm6) that is extended with the bulk urban land-surface scheme TERRA_URB (v2.0). The model reproduces very well the urban heat islands observed from in situ urban-climate observations, satellite imagery and tower observations, which is in contrast to the original COSMO-CLM model without an urban land-surface scheme. As an application of SURY, the sensitivity of atmospheric modelling with the COSMO-CLM model is addressed for the urban canopy parameter ranges from the local climate zones of City-scale effects are found in modelling the land-surface temperatures, air temperatures and associated urban heat islands. Recommendations are formulated for more precise urban atmospheric modelling at the convection-permitting scales. It is concluded that urban canopy parametrizations including SURY, combined with the deployment of the WUDAPT urban database platform and advancements in atmospheric modelling systems, are essential.

Short summary
A methodology is presented for translating three-dimensional information of urban areas into land-surface parameters that can be easily employed in atmospheric modelling. As demonstrated with the COSMO-CLM model for a Belgian summer, it enables them to represent urban heat islands and their dependency on urban design with a low computational cost. It allows for efficiently incorporating urban information systems (e.g., WUDAPT) into climate change assessment and numerical weather prediction.